By: Tara Blue
The Ashland Planning & Zoning Commission recently delayed a vote at the May 14th meeting to recommend or not recommend the revised Land Use Development Code to the Board of Aldermen after it was found that a few concerns had not been addressed.

The City of Ashland hired a consultant to assist with updating the code, as they say it has not been fully revised since 2006. The commission held several workshops since then, going line-by-line through the 200+ page document with City Inspector Darin Ratermann.

The commission held virtual and in-person public hearings last month, accepting public comments and concerns about the Land Use Development Code revision. Although public comments have been discussed extensively and the code revised accordingly, there are still a few concerns which were expressed in the March and April meetings which not been addressed.

Commissioner Cory Bergthold previously shared concerns that sections of the code may be too vague and therefore overreaching, giving the city the ability to broadly interpret and impose restrictions subjectively. He also questioned the purpose of a few limitations and requested they be removed unless reasonably warranted.

Bergthold suggested the commission hold off on voting on the revised code to allow the commission one last review, as new commissioners have recently joined. Bergthold says the goal is to encourage community growth with clear processes while providing appropriate protections and structure for the community.

Commissioner Jeff Sapp agreed that the concerns should be addressed so the city can move forward with a solid code which requires no major adjustments. After passing the revision, the commission says they can review and revise the code again for minor changes after 6 months of implementation if needed, as it is meant to be a living, breathing document.

Brian Harrington of Allstate Engineering was also part of the discussion, stating that the land use code should be slightly vague to allow a little leeway, but not so much to cause disfunction.

Harrington said that during the revision process, the commission has already relaxed a few aspects of the code, including landscaping requirements, and the ability for staff to approve deviances, proportional compliances, or send to the board of adjustments for a variance request is written into the revised code.

The commission voted to “table”, or hold off on a vote on recommendation, and will schedule another work session to review the remaining concerns before next month’s meeting.